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21 As Required Age For Unit Leaders

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Nope, no relevance to da health insurance. From a health insurance perspective you're better off being young, eh? It's us old farts who tend to fall down and go boom. :p


Two-deep for outings requires one registered leader of any age and one breathing humanoid over da age of 21.


there is likely a great amount of personal growth and maturity that develops between the ages of 18 and 21


Yah, hmmm.... seems to me that's what we call "prejudice." We've made a judgment of a person based on general characteristics of a group.


There's hopefully growth in any human over any three year period. At least that seems to be da case into our 50's or so, then we're just tryin' to hang on to what we have ;). That doesn't say anything about whether an individual has da skills needed for a particular job at any point. A young man of 18 after all has 7 years of scouting and probably 4-5 years of scouting leadership, planning, and instructional experience. He can be an EMT and have several years as a lifeguard, and as a high school graduate has a better education than a third of the older adult population. In fact, he can even program a DVR, which is a lot more than I can say for most of da people my age ;).


If he were available and da only other person willing was a second-year parent in da program who had camped out with da troop a few times in good weather and promised he'd get trained sometime in da next year, who would you want as a Scoutmaster? A good CC can help support him on da parent relations side, but da program needs a man who can lead in the field.




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Ah, I see what you we're saying regarding the leadership requirement, thank you for clarifying. As far as the insurance thing goes, sounds like we're still working based solely off of speculation, so I'll leave that alone.


Yah, hmmm.... seems to me that's what we call "prejudice." We've made a judgment of a person based on general characteristics of a group.


I don't think so Beavah. I thought the term "prejudice" referred to negative opinions made without good reason or thought process. What you're thinking of is a generalization, which isn't inherantly negative in connotation. I also think that despite the potential negative consequences, relying on generalizations to some extent is the only way to manage a program with millions of members, parents and leaders.


Are there 10 year olds that have the maturity to move from Cub Scouting to Boy Scouting early? Probably. Are there 13 year olds ready to tackle the challenges of a Venturing crew? Absolutely. Are there 18 year olds qualified to be Scoutmasters? Definitely. Is there a reliable way to put the majority of the millions of Scouts and Scouters in the appropriate program and appropriate role without making use of generalizations based on age and maturity? If there is, I'd like to hear it.


I guess we can all invent hypothetical situations where our own solution is the best answer. Here's mine: we put that 18 year old in that position, but he finds he has a difficult time overseeing the older scout patrol of what are essentially his peers, and his high school class mates. Difficult and awkward addressing discipline issues, medical issues, youth protection issues, and general social interaction. Parents of the younger Scouts, rightly or wrongly, are uneasy about sending their 11- and 12-year old children on campouts supervised by this SM due to his perceived inexperience. Parents of older scouts are concerned about his leading of high adventure activities. The young SM has to rely more and more on his older ASMs not just for program support, but also for simple validation as a legitimate adult leader. In this hypothetical situation, is this preferable to the troop taking other means to identify a more SM candidate that's also qualified "by the book?"

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My best guess ...

The top dawg in the unit might need to throw back a few cold ones with the biggest donors. Can't do that legally 'till the 21st b-day.


(Note: I'm as temperate as they come. But, my fundraising isn't all that great either.)


Actually, there is a little bit more discretion that seems to appear during years 18, 19, and 20. Not sure how much that may be because we've lowered our expectations of 18 year olds. But, growing up on the border of a state that was late raising the drinking age I can tell you that we lost quite a few 18 year olds on their "beer run."

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I thought the term "prejudice" referred to negative opinions made without good reason or thought process.


Nope. If yeh look at da statistics on theft and violent crime, there's a very strong correlation to being a black man.


But if yeh turn that around and argue that the correlation justifies a general policy of treating all black men with suspicion, that's prejudice.


As you describe, there is some OK reasoning and thought process in both cases, eh? Despite the negative potential consequences, relying on generalizations is at least argued to be only way to effectively use law enforcement resources in a city of millions of people.


Of course that means that the particular black man in front of you could either be my fellow who is a university professor comin' home from visiting his mom's grave in da old neighborhood, or your fellow who is down on his luck an lookin' for a liquor store to rob. Both are possible, as hypotheticals and in real life.


But what kind of society do yeh want to live in?


Me, I don't care for prejudice.


One of the absolutely very best scoutmasters I know started as Scoutmaster at age 19 or 20, with the retirement in all but name of the man who had been his SM. Is there a reliable way to identify such a fellow from the 19 or 20 year old who is goin' to flounder? I'd say, "of course there is!". Yeh use the system yeh already have in place to select unit leaders - conversations with kids and parents, vetting by committee, approval by da Chartered Organization. Da same system yeh use to determine whether the 40 year old is goin' to make a good Scoutmaster or not.


Nah, it's not perfectly reliable. Nothing is. But it works just fine.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I agree with Beavah and add on to say the expectations of the general population can cause a certain percentage of the people of this group to act the way you expect them to. If a black person grows up with enough people telling him that he will not amount to much, some will rise above that and prove you wrong, but many will not try to rise above that expectation. Many of these could have strived harder and have succeeded if they had people telling them it was expected that they succeed.


As a generality, the young people of today and the young people of yesterday have shifted.. It is kind-of a weird shift.. The young people of today are not as naive, more book smart, and in some ways are more mature and in other ways are not.. Hard to put your finger on, but personal responsibility I feel in the average young adult has lowered.. The ability to take on a job and work hard to take pride in the job you do, rather then just expect a pay check and try to find ways to get out of really doing the work for it.. They marry at an older age (which in itself isn't a bad thing), but still many marraiges don't last.. They move out of the house at an older age (which was the trend even before the economic crunch..)


You all can argue with it, but where did the shift come from, if not from the parents and older folks feeling they were not ready to take on that responsibility.. What we have discussed before, where we don't will argue that the teachers should not fail them on their tests, or they can't stand at a school bus stop with 4 other kids but we have to stand by, or have them sit in our car.. We must pay for everything for them until 21 or out of college, and they don't need to work to pay for their cars or gas or spending money.. They don't need to clean their own rooms or do chores.. The whole idea that "They are too young, to expect that from them"..


Basically the adults expectations produce children who meet our expectations.. But some kids rise above these expectations.. OR.. we as adults do not have to buy into these generalities and raise our children to expect more from them. To expect that they will learn and operate within the framework of personal responsibility..


I thought student/scout would answer KC9DDI.. Since she didn't I will try to, then she can respond and tell me how wrong I am, because I am sure my understanding is not totally correct.


KC9DDI said teacher/scout - not entirely sure what a "committee lifestyle" is, but it sure doesn't sound like much fun :-)

teacher/scout has been in the rainbow girls for much of her life. It is part of the Mason organization. A youth group for women.. From what I see personally I don't see much fun in it.. They hold committee meetings, and can be on a locally organize groups committee, then work up into holding positions in committees that are state wide.. teacher/scout was working on the committee statewide & locally, and ran for the highest position in the state one or two years ago.. Don't know what the name is but basically the grand Poo-ba of the rainbow girls.. They are always traveling to be at other committees (inductions?? installations??- basically the swearing in of new officers for a local unit here, or a local unit there..) To which there is a lot of pomp & circumstance, long winded speeches, ritual, wearing of long gowns.. etc.. And they travel in-state & out of state..) Per teacher/scout the fun is in the traveling & the meeting up with all the girls in all the different committees..

Sometimes in these meetings they do organize some fund-raisers.. On occasion they also have some fun days like glow-bowling and laser-tag (yes, they get laser-tag!!).. But over-all.. To me it seems like boring committee meetings, and pom & circumstance.. She is still involved currently, but just locally as she winds down to end out soon when at 20 she ages out.


Now student/scout can yell at me for how wrong and messed up I am with my interpretation..(This message has been edited by moosetracker)

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Beavah - I think we can turn to a dictionary to clear up the definitions of generalization vs. prejudice. But I think you're on to something - correlation is not causation. There is a strong correlation between race and crime rate, but not established causative relationship between the two. That's why law enforcement harassing someone based solely on skin color is considered prejudiced - there's no good reason or thought process that went in to the decision. But, there is a documented causative relationship between certain personal development traits and the number of years you've been on the planet.


Based on what you've said earlier, it seems like you agree with this to some extent. It's clear that we can make generalizations about an individual's maturity and capabilities based on age - we already do it all the time in Scouting, in grouping members into the different program areas. Its also very common outside of Scouting - youth curfews, compulsory schooling, age and height requirements to go on carnival rides, etc. We also seem to agree that a lot of personal development can occur over a few years, regardless of age, be it between 18 and 21 or 47 and 50. Are we in agreement so far?


So I guess the question is whether the difference in age and maturity that is generally experienced between 18 and 21 is significant enough to exclude those younger from 21 from holding an SM position. Obviously my opinion is yes, for the reasons I've already mentioned. It has nothing to do with prejudice, as I think there are many valid instances where age is the best possible way to generally group people based on development and maturity. Sometimes generalizing based on age is not appropriate, but that varies from situation to situation. I think adult leadership positions in a program that's based around direct contact with youth is a situation that justifies generalizing based on age.


I guess I have to wonder as to the extent you're willing to take your position. Do we open the Venturing program to 12 year olds? Do we allow a 14 year old to join a Wolf den in a Cub Scout pack? Do we allow a 17 year old to be an SM, provided there's a couple 18 or 21 year olds along just to keep it legal? Can a 13 year old get a driver's license?


moose - a couple of things. First, thank you for explaining what teacher/scout meant (she's your future daughter-in-law, if I'm following things correctly?) It sounds as though the various organizations she's involved with owe her a debt of gratitude for her level of commitment and organization.


But, I have to take some issue with some of your argument. I think that you're talking about the development of responsibility and leadership. In my opinion, while we would certainly expect a SM to continue to develop these traits as an adult, it's not wrong to expect that an SM already have these traits developed to some minimum baseline. I happen to think that an age requirement is a starting point to address that.


In your situation you've encountered some young adults that are more than qualified to take on the leadership positions reserved for 21 year olds. I bet we all have. I also bet we've also come across 14 year olds with the maturity to drive a car safely, 12 year olds ready to take on a high adventure with a Venturing crew, and 19 year olds that can handle alcohol responsibly. But, is those example enough to justify reducing the baseline regulations applied at a national level?

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Moosetracker-you do have the general idea on Rainbow, but it is more fun than you let on-it's just as much fun for me anymore because of my age. The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, which is very much like Masons, Demoly, Eastern Star, Daughters of Job etc etc focuses on girls between 11 and 20 (or 21 if they want to extend) years old. The goal behind rainbow is to teach many things, including responsibility, leadership, communication, public speaking and learning who you are as a person. Yes we have meetings every other week, for me it was the second and fourth Monday, and then the first and third Monday's would be rehearsals where we would work on skits, drills, scrapbooks and hanging out with people that you come close to. Yes we travel around the state, and out of state, but we get to meet new people and see different part of the United States and our own state, when we get together we do sleepovers, girls night out, laugh and have a good time.

2 years ago and last year I ran for Grand Worthy Advisor, which is like being the State President of Rainbow, which is like a full time job with lots of travel, working with people and many many other responsibilities. I didn't win but after that first year of running I started seeing major issues within the organization that I wish to help fix. But I'm almost done, sick of some of the bull that goes on with the adults, and I get out of there (what we call majority out) on my birthday, which makes me exicted.

So it is a great organization for younger girls but once you get to the point I am at with age and going up the line of responsibility you kinda get bored and frustrated with it.

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Or could it have just been based on knowledge of orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) development and it's relationship to risk taking behaviour......


Sure, it could have been. So since you work in Irving, can you point us to the studies National examined in this regard and the experts it consulted with?


My fourth edition of the Handbook for Scoutmasters says Scoutmasters had to be 21 years or older - in 1947. Did we really know a lot about the orbitofrontal cortex and risk-taking back then - especially when the first MRI wasn't published until 1973?


I don't mean to be rude, but please don't urinate on my leg and tell me that it's raining.

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KC9 - Don't know, I just look at what I read about the life in the mid-evil days, and the days when this country was new.. (Life is fast-paced & complex now, but life though simpler was much harsher back then.) We expected our children to take on adult responsibilities at 10-13 in mid-evil time, maybe 16-17 200-250 years back, and they did because no one thought they could not..


Now, we may give them voting rights etc.. And some may marry and leave home at 18.. But truely we don't expect our young folks to take on adult responsibilities until 21, and alot of them don't..


Call it what you want, shorter life span, harsher times, dirt poor conditions, simpiler times.. Those may be the reasons for it, but bottom line, earlier in history we expected more from our young people and they delivered..


Packsaddle - Interesting comment about the age 21 referenced in the 1947 scoutbook.. Because I was going to comment that I believe our Troops scoutmaster was under 21, he was scoutmaster for the troop for a while (in 1943), then in his early 20's he became the first camp director of our (then) new Boyscout camp..


Must have been around 1947 when we started dumbing our kids down.. (oops I mean, letting them have more time to enjoy being kids..)(This message has been edited by moosetracker)

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A little different persepctive here.


I took over the troop from a very young Scoutmaster. The boys loved him. He was like an older brother coming home from college who taught you how to drive his stick and let you borrow his Old Spice and gave you pointers for dates.


But any resembalance to a Boy Scout program was purely coincidental. No troop programs. If you had the ambition, you could attend a MB class run by a mom, otherwise it was either dodgeball or British Bulldog every week. PLC never met. Rarely camped. Oh, they did a lot of fun activities, but everyone -- Scoutmaster included -- had dates Saturday night and wanted to be home at the end of the day.


Very frankly, if I were a COR and had a choice, I would be very hesitant to accept a Scoutmaster younger than even 25 or so. It would have to be a very special young man and a very particular set of circumstances. (And MIB, if you're reading this, please don't take offense. You may be that young man but your troop most definitely would not meet my criteria.)


There needs to be a very strong support network behind a young SM. Unfortunately, the typical situation where a very young SM is appointed is in a struggling unit with little other options. Bad idea. Scoutmaster is more than Executive Senior Patrol Leader. Clearly, dealing with the adults is the big problem. I would not want to throw a 19-y.o. into some of the toe-to-toe conversations I've had with parents. The committee would need to have the SM's back to a degree which, I think, would distort the SM's role as unit leader. In a way, that would almost set up the SM as Exec. SPL. If that works, it works, but I wouldn't want to get into that arrangement if I had another choice. But if the unit is strong enough to support a young SM, why don't you have a succession plan such that you don't need a 19-y.o. SM?


But let's consider it another way -- Crew advisors out there, how would your crews function if you disappeared? Have you ever had to pick up a ball the crew president dropped? Ever stepped in to avoid a trainwreck or avert something which could have become a health/safety issue? Could you turn your crew over to the 18-20-year-olds to run without your input?


Let's be realistic. You wouldn't do that with a lot of 50 year olds. And that's why we have ASMs and committees. Which brings us back to my point about support. A very young SM will have enough challenges, but for heaven's sake don't put them in charge of a train that's already off the track.

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Why 21 originally? This probably dates to when the age of majority really was 21. The juvenile legal system being able to hold kids to age 21 is also a legacy of this. Most other definitions of adult reverted to age 18 when the voting age changed. The drinking age went to age 18 in many places for a while, but has been boosted back to age 21 also.


Why should it probably stay at age 21? I can see several reasons. I do know kids that are more mature than this, but in general, this seems to apply pretty well.


1) It has been documneted that the protion of the human brain that governs reason does not finish developing until the early 20's in the average human.


2) If a scout turns 18 at the beginning of his senior year in high school, how is he going to have adult authority over scouts who are in class with him as kids every day?


(Mother of two Eagles and a troop AC)


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IN answer to the question just posted there is no such thing as equally qualified as everyone has different personalities that can add or subtract to a specific position. And to make a decision like that you would have to know those personalities.


But all things being equal I would have to go with the 19 or 25 year old as they are old enough to space themselves from the boys and not be seen as one of the boys yet they can still relate to them in a way the 35 year old cannot. And part of the scoutmaster position is to be somebody that the boys can come and talk to with any issues be it scouting or not.


The 19 year old will do better at relating to the boys and recently crossed over Cub Scout parents I have found are more open to the younger leaders then seasoned Boy Scout leaders.


The 25 year old will still do okay with relating to the boys but seasoned Boy Scout leaders would be more comfortable with them.


This is where the problem of people getting stuck in their ways comes in and can interfere with things. We are all there after all for the BOYS.


I have seen this time and time again the boys with listen to and respect the younger leaders because they are leaders. And if they have any questions or issues and have any choice in the matter they will try to come to a younger adult leader first. And Ive seen this in multiple troops.


This is also true on the adult side when I talk about new crossover leaders/ slash cub leaders turned scout leaders they have no issues with younger leaders and to them young adults are fully fledged adult.


Its when you get to the Scout leaders that have been there awhile they get stuck in their ways. And that can be either positive or negative, for or against young leaders. I mean look at what moose tracker said about adults decision making for kids and young adults, it is 100% accurate.


For those that think Venturing is the answer to retaining these young adults its not Ive talked to a lot of people and myself included are not interested in the program and thing it isnt worth our energy. (No offense to anybody that is in it and likes the program a large part of the scouting population does not)


KC9DDI by the time your 18 you have your personality set in stone and youre just working on fine tuning details. Thats something any guidance councilor, physiatrist, or anybody else will tell you. So by that point unless something drastic happens to them person to change their personality they are gonna have shown that they have leadership skills and responsibility. Can they be improved on maybe but I bet yours can be too.


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Moose -


A Scoutmaster has many more responsibilities than just being able to "relate" to youth. In fact I think that there are many times when a good Scoutmaster needs to be able to see things from the perspective of an experienced adult, not from the perspective of a youth.


But no one's saying that young adults don't bring something valuable to the table, that the "older adults" might not. That's why I admire the troops that are able to recruit a diverse group of leaders - from older youth SPLs and JASMs, to young adult ASMs, to "established adult" SMs, ASMs and committee members.


I have seen this time and time again the boys with listen to and respect the younger leaders because they are leaders. And if they have any questions or issues and have any choice in the matter they will try to come to a younger adult leader first. And Ive seen this in multiple troops.


I've seen some examples of this as well. I've also seen boys who feel more comfortable talking with someone with a few more years of experience under their belt. That's why it helps to have youth and adults of all ages in leadership roles. But, what I've seen in all cases is the need for the person whose ultimately responsible to have the experience, maturity and judgement that develops after the age of 18.


This is also true on the adult side when I talk about new crossover leaders/ slash cub leaders turned scout leaders they have no issues with younger leaders and to them young adults are fully fledged adult.


Not entirely sure what you're saying here. I will say that I've seen plenty of adults that are skeptical enough of having a youth led program under adult direction. I'd conclude that there would be plenty of adults critical of a youth led program under slightly-older-than-youth direction.


KC9DDI by the time your 18 you have your personality set in stone and youre just working on fine tuning details. Thats something any guidance councilor, physiatrist, or anybody else will tell you. So by that point unless something drastic happens to them person to change their personality they are gonna have shown that they have leadership skills and responsibility. Can they be improved on maybe but I bet yours can be too.


That's news to me - never had a single guideance counselor, psychiatrist or anybody else ever tell me that. In fact most research seems to suggest that the brain does not finish developing until the early to mid 20s.


But we're not really talking about personality here, are we? We're talking about maturity, judgement, experience, responsibility, leadership, and other traits along those lines. I'm open to the idea that one's potential for these things may be pretty well determined by age 18, but I think there's certainly still an enormous amount of development that needs to occur after the age of 18 (things like college for a sizeable proportion of the population).


If it helps to illustrate my perspective I'll offer that my current age is 23. I aged out of my troop at 18, stayed involved as an ASM for a while. Throughout college I remained a little bit involved as an ASM and a Venturer, and am now getting more involved in Venturing and some council-level affairs. Just anecdotaly, I can say that I am a completely different person now than I was at 18. The experiences of living on your own, increased personal freedom, managing your own finances, working full time, relationships, etc - there's a huge amount of all that that starts after you turn 18. Yes, that's just my experience, but it has a lot in common with the experiences of the age group as a whole. I'd like to think that I was plenty responsible at 18 - for example, I was a licensed EMT at 18, and a paramedic before I turned 20, and have seen and done some relatively "heavy" things. But that's not the same thing as being ready to take on the a "the-buck-stops-here" role of ultimate authority and responsibility for a group of youth.


An SM is a unique position with an enormous amount of responsibility. Because we all are in it for the BOYS, I think that the boys deserve to have someone in that position that's not also struggling with the same things that all "new" adults struggle with around the time they turn 18. Being an SM is not the same thing as being just an older SPL. Having these young adults in an ASM role for a few years gives them an opportunity to continue to support a Scout troop, but doesn't force on them some of the heavier responsibility burden until they've had an opportunity to more fully develop the skillset and maturity to handle it.

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OK, Venturing is not a spot, my son sees shades of gray on.. But, there are many many old timers with the same fault.. As well as that opinion held for Woodbadge 21c, EDGE, how scoutcraft is changing (or the direction the scouting movement has taken in recent years..) Shall I continue..



We don't have many good Venturing Crews in our area. So the idea of what they are about, is geared to seeing untrained crew advisors or his history with our run-away train COR (old Crew advisor)... but it might do my son good to visit one of our good ones, started by one of his woodbadge patrol members.


If he opened a discussing about ventureing to those Crew members, or even those who are not in that crew, but judge what ventureing is all about from that crew, he may find some positive feedback.

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